Last November, writer Kater Gordon accused Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner of sexual harassing her during her stint as the series’ writing assistant in 2008, allegedly informing her she “owed” it to Weiner to let him see her naked. Weiner subsequently denied the allegation. Former Mad Men producer Marti Noxon, however, backed up Gordon in the media, explaining that such comments are all but a hallmark of working with Weiner. In a statement made to The Hollywood Reporter, Noxon said of Weiner, “He is devilishly clever and witty, but he is also, in the words of one of his colleagues, an ‘emotional terrorist’ who will badger, seduce and even tantrum in an attempt to get his needs met.” While at Vulture Festival on Saturday, the Dietland creator opened up about her decision to publicly support Gordon, a process that proved “terrifying” despite the fact, as Noxon points out, she knew the harassment had happened.
Clarifying that she was quoting an unnamed colleague when she called Weiner an “emotional terrorist,” Noxon said of her experience: “It’s given me a lot of insight to what women, men, human beings go through when they stand up to someone who has so much more power than them, because it was terrifying for me. Terrifying.” Knowing the stakes of reproaching a beloved figure, Noxon didn’t take the decision lightly. “I deliberated. I talked to my shrink. I went to the head of AMC and said, ‘I think I’m going to do this,’ because I had a show on AMC. I thought, what would I risk? I know people who are very close to him. Would they ever speak to me again? And that’s just to say that I knew that the things she said happened, had happened. That’s all.” Said Noxon, “People don’t want to believe this stuff about people they like.”
Others approached Noxon to wonder if the alleged harassment wasn’t actually “that bad,” i.e. bad enough to rebuke Weiner and potentially suffer professional consequences. Recalled Noxon, “Everyone knows this is a tremendously talented man who also runs his mouth in a way that is incredibly unkind. So everybody was afraid, if you left under bad circumstances, that could be the end of you. I was afraid of it. So imagine being a young woman who has worked her whole life to get to this moment.”
Concluded Noxon, “To all the people who said to me after I backed her up, ‘that’s just the way things are,’ I tell them, ‘That’s the way things were.’ We should not have to accept bullying or harassment to make art. It’s not a requirement for good art. That is a falsehood that gets perpetrated by bullies. And I’m done with it.”